Mexico did just enough to advance to the Gold Cup quarterfinals Sunday night, edging lowly Martinique 3-2 in Charlotte. A berth in the quarterfinals was secured earlier in the week with 3-1 victory over Canada, but with the extra three point from the win, El Tri ended up with seven points to take Group A.
After defeating Cuba and Canada by a combined 10-1 score, El Tri sleepwalked past the lowly island nation in the West Indies. They did control over two-thirds of possession and put 10 shots on goal.
Uriel Antuna scored in the 29th minute for Mexico, but Martinique’s Kevin Parsemain equalized in the 56th. Raul Jimenez broke the tie just minutes later, while Fernando Navarro tallied another goal in the 72nd, while Martinique’s Jordy Delem drew blood in the 84th for the final margin.
Despite tonight’s struggles, Mexico set up a berth for next Saturday in Houston in the quarterfinals. Let’s take a look at the possible opponents.
Who Will El Tri Play Next in the Gold Cup Quarterfinals?
According to CBS Sports, the Group A winner plays the Group B runner-up, while the Group B winner faces the runner-up in Group A. This is the same for Groups C and D on the other side of the bracket.
Mexico’s quarterfinal opponent will be determined tomorrow night in Harrison (N.J.), as Costa Rica and Haiti vie for first place in Group B (9 p.m. EST, FS1). Both teams beat Bermuda by 2-1 scores, while they bested Nicaragua by a combined 6-0 margin.
As of June 14, Costa Rica was ranked No. 39 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings, while Haiti was just outside the top-100 at No. 101. The former has broken through in the last decade, making the World Cup quarterfinals in 2014 and another tournament in 2018.
Joel Campbell is the club’s main player to watch. He is a fixture in European soccer, but he currently plays forward for Leon in Mexico. In his national team career, he has racked up 16 goals for the senior team (as well as 18 goals total for the junior teams).
Elias Aguilar has recorded goals in both Gold Cup contests, so far.
Haiti, on the other hand, built momentum heading into the Gold Cup with a first-place finish in the Nations League. According to The Bent Musket, they are meeting expectations so far as the second-best team in the group.
Haiti is another squad that has two recent wins over Gold Cup teams, defeating Nicaragua in Nations League play on the road and also beating Cuba at home to secure the top of the table in the qualifying tournament.
It’s probably best to chalk up Mexico’s struggles Sunday night to complacency, as a quarterfinal berth was already clinched. However, two goals against a team with as low a profile as Martinique is cause for concern.
Mexico is seen as the big kid on the block this Gold Cup, especially since the U.S. is still finding its footing under new head coach Gregg Berhalter. Both Costa Rica and Haiti know that a tournament title would be a reality if they mustered enough to sneak past El Tri.
Expect Mexico to face Haiti first after a Costa Rica win on Monday night, but El Tri will face both en route to the tournament final.